Movie magic

NH Film Festival is keeping the faith

NH Weekend Editor
October 10. 2018 1:15PM
"Leave No Trace," starring Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie, is the story of a veteran suffering from PTSD who lives with his 13-year-old daughter in a public park. 

The notion of finding and keeping the faith spools out across the New Hampshire Film Festival’s (NHFF) 2018 lineup.

With more than 100 works to be screened at downtown Portsmouth venues, the four-day cinematic showcase is a chance not only to see new movies but to meet the people in front of and behind the lens — producers, actors, editors and, in some cases, the people whose stories inspired the films.

The popular festival, which draws about 10,000 people to Portsmouth each fall, opens today and will run through Sunday.

It will bring in some well-known small and big-screen guests, including comedian and actor David Spade, who will do a Q&A after the screening of his latest film, the Netflix comedy “Father of the Year,” at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at 3S Artspace, 319 Vaughan St.

Overall, said Emma Pearson, NHFF publicist, there’s a palpable sense of “overcoming obstacles and achieving success” across the 2018 slate of films.

ESPN presents the sport documentary “Crossroads,” about an unlikely and ultimately triumphant lacrosse team of at-risk students, at 3:35 p.m. Friday and 2:05 p.m. Sunday at the Music Hall. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Yassen, coach Bobby Selkin, ESPN Films Director Adam Neuhaus and one of the lacrosse players, Isaiah Lott, will be on hand to talk about how teamwork is key on all levels.

In “All Creatures Below,” a young couple played by David Dastmalchian and Karen Gillan, makes a rash decision, trying to stake a claim, but they up on the run as criminals.

In “Leave No Trace,” Ben Foster stars as a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder who is jolted from his off-the-grid life in an Oregon park, where he lives with his teenage daughter, played by Thomasin McKenzie.

New this year is a Virtual Reality Lounge, designed to draw even more people into the non-fiction genre. With the help of high-tech goggles, visitors can dramatically explore humans’ impact on the Earth in “Virtual Reality Experience: This is Climate Change,” by Danfung Dennis and Eric Strauss.

“Everybody today is sort of disconnected to a large degree from nature, from the more primal elements,” Pearson said. “We’re so caught up in rushing around. People are too glued to their screens to appreciate the environment.”

The irony of using high-tech to pry eyes from the digital realm isn’t lost on Pearson.

“It’s in a way ironic,” she said. “Some will experience (it) for the first time. They’ll feel like they are inside the films.”

It takes audiences from melting icebergs in Greenland and the dwindling rainforests of Brazil to drought-ravaged Somalia and fire-scarred regions of California. “This is Climate Change” features four films that run about 10 minutes each: “Melting Ice,” “Famine,” “Fire” and “Feast.”

The lounge, 24 Congress St., will be open Friday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, hours will be 12:30 to 1:30 and 3:40 to 4:40 p.m.

But fear not, there also will be healing through humor with a comedy panel at 9 p.m. Saturday at 3S Artspace.

John Viener, a voice actor and producer of the animated series “Family Guy,” “Our Cartoon President” and “Phineas and Ferb,” and Tim Herlihy, writer and co-producer of “Billy Madison,” “Happy Gilmore” and “The Wedding Singer” (films that starred Granite State native Adam Sandler) will be on hand.

In addition, Rae Dawn Chong (“Quest for Fire,” “Beat Street,” “The Color Purple,” “Commando” and “Time Runner”), will be back. Chong, a longtime supporter and participant of the annual event, is on the governing board of the festival.

A handful of venues will reel out events during the festival, including The Music Hall, Discover Portsmouth Center, Moffatt-Ladd House, The Music Hall Loft, 3s Artspace and One Hundred Club.

For details about festival panels, work shops and parties, visit

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